by Winnie Saunders
(Portland, Oregon, USA)
It comes in the mail all too often. A large pristine white envelope hand addressed to you. The calligraphy is beautiful. You don’t have to open it to know what it is. It’s another wedding invitation to go with several others you’ve already received. Some of these people you barely know.
You know it means buying a gift and money is already in short supply. Where can you find a cheap wedding gift and not look cheap? How much should you spend? If you’re invited to one of the wedding dinners a good rule of thumb is to spend about as much as the dinner would have cost.
This could run between $50 and $125. You’re certainly not obligated to spend that much but polite etiquette also says you should not go empty handed. How can you afford to give something special yet affordable?
Select the gift early. Go ahead and get it over with and check the gift registry. With so many weddings, especially in the spring, registry items can quickly get picked over leaving you with little to choose or gifts out of your price range.
Many thoughtful brides and grooms are now adding a broad selection of gifts in all price ranges. Again, shop early for best (and cheapest) idea. With the distinct possibility of going to two or three weddings in the same year even an inexpensive gift could add up when multiplied.
Use your imagination and creativity to make or buy something that’s personalized for the newlyweds. Wedding gift baskets can be geared to their particular tastes and lifestyle. Most new brides need kitchen gadgets so a basket filled with kitchen basics, a few epicurean recipe ingredients and even a recipe book would be perfect. The groom could appreciate this more than you know.
Frame their wedding invitation. Make the frame yourself or buy one that can be personalized with their names and wedding date. Framing a favorite poem or readings from the ceremony itself is a very considerate gift.
Newlyweds are usually on a tight budget so give them a movie night out. You could spring for movie tickets and cash for the popcorn or buy them a romantic movie DVD and include a package of popcorn to pop. Put all this in a popcorn bowl along with two boxes of movie candy.
Give a bottle of wine with a note attached that the wine will be at its prime in 10 years and it’s not to be opened until their 10th anniversary. Decorate the bottle with bows or ribbons. You could also include ingredients for a romantic dinner such as pasta and a gourmet sauce. A couple of candles would round out the gift nicely.
A lavish expensive wedding gift will never trump the thoughtful personalized gift from their friend. (Well, almost never.) Be creative and give from the heart. If you run out of time and ideas, a little cash or gift card in any amount is always appropriate and appreciated.